NASAs Webb Telescope One Step Closer to Completion

first_imgStay on target NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Gets Assembled in CaliforniaNASA Observes Mysterious Galactic ‘Jellyfish’ in Deep Space NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is one step closer to liftoff.Late last month, the spacecraft cleared another critical testing milestone by surviving its final thermal vacuum evaluation.Locked inside a thermal vacuum chamber (from which the atmosphere has been drained), the device is exposed to a wide range of hot and cold temperatures—a glacial -235℉ to a sweltering 215℉.These trials help ensure that the telescope’s hardware functions in outer space, and can withstand anticipated extreme climate fluctuations on its mission.Technicians and engineers take special precautions when preparing and transporting Webb’s spacecraft element (via Northrop Grumman)One half of the Webb observatory, featuring the telescope and science instruments, successfully completed its testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center last year.The second half—consisting of flight controls and a tennis-court-sized sunshield—was recently put through its paces at lead industrial partner Northrop Grumman’s LA facility.“The teams from Northrop Grumman and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are to be commended for … dedicating long hours to get where we are now,” Jeanne Davis, James Webb Space Telescope program manager, said in a statement. “This incredible accomplishment paves the way for the next major milestone.”Which is to join both halves of Webb to form a fully assembled observatory, and complete a final round of deployments, testing, and evaluation before—fingers crossed—an official launch.Webb’s spacecraft is lifted into the thermal vacuum chamber for environmental testing (via Northrop Grumman)NASA originally planned to send the telescope to space as early as 2007, but various setbacks and human errors delayed the project more than a decade.The James Webb Space Telescope is now scheduled for liftoff in March 2021. As the world’s premier space science observatory, it carries a lot of expectations.“Webb will solve mysteries in our Solar System, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our Universe and our place in it,” according to NASA.It will eventually replace the nearly three-decade-old Hubble.More on Geek.com:Hubble Space Telescope Should Last At Least 5 More YearsHubble Telescope Supports Evidence of Distant ExomoonNASA Telescope, Oscar Trophy Tech Attracts Starslast_img

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